THERE were shoots of recovery for York City on Forest Green’s New Lawn pitch, but not enough to prevent a third straight defeat.

During an encouraging first-half performance, Levi Mackin’s heavily-deflected effort – his first City goal in 58 appearances – cancelled out a more fortuitous Danny Powell deadlock breaker for the visitors.

But, early in the second period, substitute Ollie Thorne capitalised on dozy defending by the visitors to net from close range following David Brown’s inswinging free-kick.

Disappointingly, the Minstermen then rarely threatened an equaliser despite introducing attack-minded trio Courtney Pitt, Michael Rankine and Kevin Gall as subs and even throwing ’keeper Michael Ingham forward in stoppage time.

City, who were so unyielding during a 100 per cent winning run in the league during November, December and January, must now rediscover their confidence after racking up a hat-trick of consecutive defeats for only the second time under Martin Foyle.

The previous occasion was back on New Year’s Day 2009 when Football League-bound Burton were responsible for two of the losses.

Forest Green, though, became the third relegation-threatened outfit in a week to beat the Minstermen, following on from Eastbourne and Barrow.

Having been heavily reliant on a superb defensive record prior to their current slump, City are now finding results more difficult to come by as the clean sheets have become less common.

To relieve some of the pressure on their back four, Foyle’s men need to become more potent at the opposite end of the pitch as the Bootham Crescent club have now failed to score more than one goal in any of their last 11 fixtures.

Even the return from suspension of 27-goal top scorer Richard Brodie provided no remedy and, having missed an excellent second-half chance, he has now gone six games without finding the net.

Service was a problem, however, with City missing Alex Lawless’ creativity from the middle of the park and, other than combining for Mackin’s goal, converted full-backs Ben Purkiss and Chris Carruthers struggled to penetrate down the flanks as effectively as interchangeable Forest Green wingers Powell and Conal Platt.

Despite forcing 12 corners and boasting the height of Luke Graham, David McGurk, Brodie, Rankine, Purkiss, Mackin, Carruthers and even Ingham, City were also far too easily contained from the flag kicks with most being swung on to the grateful fist or into the arms of home ’keeper Danny Ireland by Neil Barrett.

In fact, the Minstermen have now failed to score from a set-piece since the 4-1 victory over Hayes and Yeading in mid-January.

A promising start to the game saw Mackin and Barrett both test Ireland from distance before Forest Green carved out their first opportunity of the match on 21 minutes, with Isaiah Rankin shooting weakly at Ingham after good work by Powell.

Seconds later, the home side forged ahead when Powell twisted and turned to make space for a crossing chance in the City penalty box and his delivery to the far post nestled in a helpless Ingham’s top left-hand corner.

The Minstermen were level on 35 minutes when Purkiss’ deep cross was headed back across goal by Carruthers and Mackin’s scuffed ten-yard shot deceived Ireland after deflecting off Brown’s back.

Shortly afterwards, Pacquette forced a scrambling save from Ireland with an opportunist 35-yard effort and Brodie headed a Barrett corner to the far post into the sidenetting.

Early in the second half, Barrett’s header from a Brodie cross lacked the power to beat Ireland but, at the other end, Powell ghosted past Daniel Parslow in the City box and Ingham had to dive low to his left to keep the visitors on level terms.

But parity was shortlived. McGurk conceded the latest in a litany of free-kicks by his side and, when Brown swung the ball in from the left, Thorne watched it drop to his feet before his sidefooted finish on the edge of the six-yard box beat Ingham’s admirable attempt at a save.

In response, Brodie’s drive from an acute angle was kept out at his near post by Ireland, but the best chance of a second equaliser saw City’s England ‘C’ international shoot over from six yards after a dangerous low cross from the left by the lively Pitt on 73 minutes.

Match facts

Forest Green 2 (Powell 22; Thorne 55), York City 1 (Mackin 35)

York City: Michael Ingham 7, Daniel Parslow 5, Luke Graham 6, David McGurk 6, James Meredith 6, Ben Purkiss 5, Levi Mackin 7, Neil Barrett 5, Chris Carruthers 6, Richard Brodie 6, Richard Pacquette 6.

Substitutions: Michael Rankine 6 (for Mackin, 68), Courtney Pitt 7 (Pacquette, 68), Kevin Gall (for Purkiss, 72). Not used: Gash, Clarke.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

City’s star man: Mackin – City missed him when he was substituted.

Forest Green: Danny Ireland, Jared Hodgkiss, Mark Preece, Craig Armstrong (Ollie Thorne, 46), Paul Stonehouse, Danny Powell, David Brown (Mike Fowler, 77), Jonathan Smith, Conal Platt, Tomi Ameobi, Isaiah Rankin (Reece Styche, 72). Subs not used: Steve Davies, David Wilkinson.

Booked: Armstrong 45, Smith 59, Mackin 59, Preece 75, McGurk 79, Meredith 82, Ameobi 84, Platt 90.

Shots on target: Rovers 6, York 6.

Shots off target: Rovers 5, York 3.

Corners: Rovers 6, York 12.

Fouls conceded: Rovers 17, York 16.

Offsides: Rovers 1, York 4.

Referee: Chris Powell (Dorset). Rating: got carried away with his notebook after the break.

Attendance: 892.

Shot of the match: Pacquette’s first-time attempt just after City’s equaliser was an inventive effort and, had it gone in, the final result might have been different.

Miss of the match: Brodie blazing over from close range after Pitt’s cross.

Head to head: Richard Pacquette v Mark Preece

Striker Pacquette caused Preece early problems with his mobility during a rare start for the Minstermen.

He held off Preece well with his back to goal and was unfortunate not to score on 35 minutes when he escaped the attentions of the big Forest Green centre back.

The former Havant striker was substituted on 68 minutes though, still leaving question marks over his suitability as a striking partner for Brodie.